Hampshire toiled as their faint hopes of a late push for County Championship promotion faded yesterday.
Centuries from Rob Key and Brendan Nash saw Kent rack up a first innings lead of 108 on day three of the division two clash at Canterbury.
The hosts were eventually bowled out for 513 – with James Tomlinson picking up three for 72.
Hampshire, who prior to the match sat in fifth spot in the table, had just enough time to edge to 15 without loss before stumps were drawn on another frustrating day of first-class cricket.
And barring a disastrous collapse, which would gift an unlikely win to the home side, the game will this afternoon peter out into a draw.
It will be the sixth stalemate in 10 four-day fixtures for Hampshire – a statistic which has undermined the best efforts of skipper Jimmy Adams to propel his team back into the top flight.
Table-toppers Lancashire and Northamptonshire seemed to ease further and further away with every run Kent scored yesterday.
Resuming on their Tuesday night total of 200 for one – and still trailing by 205 – Kent made a tidy start through second-wicket partners Key and Daniel Bell-Drummond.
The latter moved to 79 before chasing a wide delivery from Tomlinson.
His lapse in concentration only served to bring former West Indies Test batsman Nash to the crease, though. Along with Key, the left-hander helped Kent progress steadily either side of lunch.
Key eventually fell for a season’s best 180 – bowled trying to slog-sweep Danny Briggs (one for 88)
Meanwhile, Nash hit an impish 126 with 17 fours during his near four-hour stay at the crease.
He enjoyed brief partnerships with Ben Harmison, Darren Stevens and Geraint Jones before he was finally out – caught behind off a bottom edge as he looked to cut a delivery from Liam Dawson (one for 62).
Kent’s innings was brought to an end when Calum Haggett was caught at cover by off the bowling of Sohail Tanvir (two for 82).
That left Hampshire with seven overs to see off before the close.
Michael Carberry and Adams did so without alarm – and will just need to be watchful this morning to extinguish any hope Kent have of claiming a shock success.